Last week, I wrote about our anger and the underlying feelings that cause it. Today, I want to talk about the anger of others. The anger that we take responsibility for or take personally. Then, we spend the rest of the day analyzing what we did wrong, what we could’ve done or said differently, or just feeling really bad about ourselves.
Do you know that feeling? Have you been there? I know I have, way too many times!
Other people have anger for the same reasons that we do, they just project it onto others instead of hiding it or dealing with the unlying issues that make them so angry. They project their feelings of inadequacy and lack of control. They manipulate others so that they can feel better about themselves.
This does not mean you have to accept it. But you do, don’t you? (I used to too! And at times I still struggle to stop.) This anger of another person can infiltrate your life. Mess with your entire day. Their rebuke causes you to doubt and ruminate what you’ve done, said, and who you are. You can’t stop thinking about it, going over it again and again.
Then, you start to question everything you know to be true about yourself. What if I’m the one who caused this? How do these things keep happening to me?
My healing journey.
Through my own divorce healing and deep inner wound recovery, I’ve learned the hard task of not taking the anger of others personally. This hasn’t come easily to me. The universe has given me many opportunities to practice. I was raised by and then divorced a narcissist. Many times I failed and allowed it to affect me. But over time, I’ve found it easier and easier to just self-coach myself through each incident where someone was angry and they either took it out on me or tried to blame me for their anger, for no good reason.
As I stated last week, angry people, women included, will lash out at me, maybe without even realizing it. Men who think it’s unfair that I only write for and coach women, tell me that I’m a narcissist for doing so (I’m not sure they know the definition of a narcissist if they think a person who states their healthy boundaries is narcissistic??). Men who’ve committed adultery, try to tell me, “It was her fault!”––stating that she didn’t provide or wasn’t a great housekeeper, which is just an excuse for his choice to cheat. And a year or so ago I shared a horrible encounter I had with a doctor, which I later found out was how he treated many women who stepped into his office (thankfully, he has since left town and that practice).
After many of these types in encounters I decided I was done wasting my life bothered by the anger of others. Since I only can change myself, I had to look at the things I was doing after each event that caused me to take these attacks personally, when it was never my fault in the first place.
5 Things I Did to Retrain My Brain to Not Take Things Personally
Read lots of books about this topic.
You can only learn to stop walking on eggshells by learning how to Stop Walking on Eggshells. I read the book, multiple times. Highlighted many helpful tips. And I took picture of the most important quote to carry with me on my phone. Those with personality disorders are black and white thinkers. There is only black or white, right or wrong, and good or bad; never both, never more than one. So if they’re always right, never to blame, then you must be wrong and to blame.
[They] tend to see the world in black and white. And they tend to assume everyone else sees things the same way. In the face of this, people who have a consistent sense of their own self-worth have an easier time maintaining their sense of reality. –– Paul T. Mason, MS & Randi Kreger
Realizing that my reality was not based on the reality of another person was profound for me. I could see things differently even if they said I was wrong. Someone else could create a false reality but that doesn’t mean that’s the truth or my reality; that would be gaslighting. It’s just their narrative. They lie! Something they created to make me feel bad for doing what’s best for me. And I no longer had to fight another person’s narrative. I can let go of the fight to focus on my healing. Such a relief!
Talk to a coach or a therapist.
I tend to be a verbal processor, so I wasn’t able to self-coach myself through this process until I first talked it through with my counselor and coach. He helped me to put my feelings aside for a second to see the truth about the situation. As he shared, about the angry doctor experience, just because he’s a doctor doesn’t mean he’s right about everything. And nothing gives him the right to talk that way. His entitlement and lack of remorse mean he could have personality or anger issues. I just needed that reminder.
Once I was able to see these situations with fresh eyes, I was able to process things by myself. I’m now capable of maintaining my reality while analyzing a new rebuke from someone. My self-worth is not based on what others tell me about myself or how they see me––although people do try. Instead, my self-worth is based on who I am and who I’m meant to be. My authentic self. My God-worth. That is my truth and that is all that matters.
Practice with someone safe.
Since my divorce, I’ve had a person (and people at times) in my life that got angry quite easily. I would not have made it through those times without getting sound advice on how to better communicate in the moment when someone else was angry. I’ve also had at least one person I could practice with, what to say or how to say it so I was ready when those incidents happened again.
If you are able, partner with someone who will challenge you to learn how to be assertive or speak up when you need to, having firm in your boundaries, and then quick to walk away when you realize a conversation is going nowhere. After my encounter with the angry doctor, I learned that it’s okay to say, “This is not appropriate and you will not talk to me this way.” Then, I should have walked out and talked to someone above him. But it was only after talking to a couple of ladies who work in the health care field, that I learned that I had the ability to speak up, even to a medical doctor.
Write down what happened, instead of stewing about it.
Throughout my divorce and after I’ve learned the art of documenting conversations and rough situations. When I want to process through something, as well as make sure I know what was said or what happened after, I write down everything I can remember shortly after it happened. I have found this useful in realizing the truth about the situation and letting things so I can move on through the rest of the day.
It’s hard to take things personally when I’ve already processed the experience and realized that I didn’t do anything wrong. Or when I did do something wrong, realizing that I did the best I could in that moment. And other than apologizing for my mistake, there is nothing else I can do. Their anger over my imperfections is not warranted.
Realize people can choose to be angry or extend grace when you’ve done something wrong.
Everyone has a choice on how they treat other people. They can choose kind or they can choose anger. No one is perfect so we’ll all make mistakes. When I make a mistake, others can get angry at me or they can extend grace. I’m free to do the same. I find extending grace much easier when I know I need just as much myself.
Working outside the home has helped me to realize that those who choose anger over grace are only ruining their own day; I don’t have to let it ruin mine. Have a great day!!
What work have you done on yourself so you’re not taking someone else’s anger personally? Or what areas do you still need to work on? What do you need the most help with?
May God bless your healing journey,